MATCH REPORT: Mansfield Town 1, Blackburn Rovers 3
Two goals inside two second half minutes saw Championship club Blackburn Rovers finally kill off Mansfield Town's hopes of an upset as the Stags lost 3-1 in tonight's EFL Cup first round clash at One Call Stadium.
Playing with the pace of winger CJ Hamilton up front, Mansfield unsettled their visitors with an unexpected line-up and caused them plenty of problems in an even first half.
But the visitors were ahead at the break through Anthony Stokes’ deflected finish on 29 minutes.
Mitch Rose headed Stags level three minutes after the break.
But two defensive lapses on 53 minutes and 55 minutes saw the Championship side capitalise with headers by Shane Duffy and Stokes, with his third goal in two games, to kill off the underdogs.
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Mansfield played an experimental line-up without a recognised front man which meant four changes from the side that won Saturday’s opener at Newport.
Out went George Taft, Matt Green, Kevan Hurst and Danny Rose and in came James Baxendale, Karl Howkins, CJ Hamilton and Ashley Hemmings with Hemmings and Baxendale supporting the pace of Hamilton.
They ended the game with three strikers on as substitutes, but the damage was already done.
Rovers, looking to quickly put Saturday’s opening 4-1 home disaster against Norwich behind them, brought in Gordon Greer, Stokes, Jack Byrne, Craig Conway and Stephen Hendrie.
Ward and Bennett missed out with injury and Feeney, Henley and Akpan dropped to the bench.
Stags had a chance after just two minutes as a poor Duffy backpass allowed Hamilton to latch onto it and nip into the left of the box only to see him slot low and wide of the near post.
But Chapman was sold short with a pass on six minutes and Byrne robbed him and fed Marshall for a low shot that Shearer managed to parry.
Howkins then got his body in the way of a Conway piledriver.
Soon after Conway cut in from the left and set up Lenihan to his right for a 20 yard shot that Shearer was always behind.
On 13 minutes Clements let fly from 25 yards with a low shot that wasn’t too far wide.
A minute later Hamilton tricked his way inside Greer but pulled his low finish wide of the near post.
Clements wasn’t far wide once again on 18 minutes from a 25 yard free kick.
Bennett put his side in trouble with a poor backpass, Shearer there first to prevent Graham capitalising.
However, it was Rovers who drew first blood on 29 minutes as Stokes cut into the left of the box from a Graham flick and saw his low shot deflect against Howkins and spin off into the net inside the right hand post.
Clements headed over and a long Benning cross-cum-shot dropped just wide of the far post as Mansfield continued to press, but the visitors held out to the break with their noses in front.
But it only took the Stags three minutes to square the game on the restart.
Benning crossed long from the left and Rose got up well to direct his header inside the back post.
Rovers’ response was quick and deadly as on 53 minutes Conway’s right wing corner saw Duffy unmarked to power home a bullet header from six yards.
Stags were then stung by a second goal in as many minutes as Marshall floated in a right wing cross and Duffy jumped highest to glance a header past Shearer.
Baxendale was too high and Chapman wide as Stags looked for a way back while Shearer had to get behind a low, first time Marshall drive.
With 20 minutes to go Stags threw on striker pair Green and Danny Rose in place of CJ Hamilton and Baxendale.
Then Hakeem took over from Clements on 75 minutes as Stags desperately looked for a way back.
Stokes almost completed a hat-trick near the end but saw his deflected shot hit the underside of the home bar and fail to cross the line.
STAGS: Shearer, Bennett, Benning, Collins, Howkins, Chapman, Clements (Hakeem 75), Baxendale (Green 70), Hamilton (Danny Rose 70), Hemmings, M. Rose. Subs not used: Jensen, Taft, Hurst, McGuire.
BLACKBURN: Steele, Greer, Lowe, Byrne, Stokes, Marshall, Graham (Mahoney 80), Hendrie (Henley 72), Duffy, Lenihan, Conway (Feeney 68). Subs not used: Raya, Akpan, Guthrie, Wharton.
REFEREE: Stephen Martin of Staffordshire.
ATTENDANCE: CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ashley Hemmings.